Beetroot is a dark red vegetable, with a sweet and earthy taste. Beetroot can be eaten boiled, roasted or raw, and is often pickled. It's used as a food colouring too, and has been used for medicinal purposes since at least the Roman era.
Beetroot is something of a love/hate vegetable, and an acquired taste. It is rich in geosmin, the compound which makes the ground smell earthy after rain, and which gives beetroot its taste.
Packed with nutrients, beetroot is a good source of fibre, folic acid, vitamin C, potassium, iron and manganese. It is also rich in inorganic nitrates, substances which are responsible for many of the health benefits of beetroot.
Research has shown that drinking beetroot juice can lower blood pressure within 24 hours. This is because the nitrates help to widen blood vessels, promoting better blood flow and easing pressure.
For this same reason, beetroot is known to be beneficial to brain health, helping to promote a healthy blood flow which may be able to improve cognition or slow degeneration.
Studies have also shown that the nitrates in beetroot can help to reduce the amount of oxygen that cells use during intensive exercise. thereby assisting athletic endurance and performance.